Well, it happened.
I got mad.
In workshops I have been saying pretty regularly that we never fight anymore. And those of you who knew me in the early stages of my relationship with Steve might remember how the opposite was pretty true. We fought. Hard. Well, mostly I fought. Steve tried to keep up. Fighting it out was/is not exactly his strong suit.
Every time I would say this in workshops, I would wonder if I was jinxing myself.
Happy to say, that while I did get mad, we didn’t fight.
I was pretty mad.
So…I did what I say to others to do over and over.
I slowed it all down. We used a talking stick. Well, it was a feather. We were in his car, and there was a feather on the visor —of course Steve had a feather in his visor.
Going this slow wasn’t so easy. I could feel the energy just coursing through me. I wanted to scream. First time in a long time. What I know about that is, that it is good information for me. Clearly something important was at stake. All the more reason to slow it down. Breathe. Stick to the structure. Observations, Feelings, Needs, Requests, Empathy, Honesty.
I got mad at a question he asked. It was approximately 7:45pm. By 11pm, we were back at home, had reached an initial completion point in this conversation and were laughing and fully connected.
The next morning, we did a bit more sharing and reflecting on what was happening for me, and how it is that we kind of skipped over a few things in a conversation in the past, that led to this confusion we experienced the night before. This time we used talking beads. Why? Because the stick we could find looked like a stirrer from Starbucks and it didn’t quite do it for me. I was no longer mad, by the way. I was able to sink in and feel how scared and disappointed I was. And the story I was telling myself, I knew wasn’t true based on our conversation the night prior. After a few more details were explored, we were done.
The morning conversation was the ‘storytelling’ portion of communication. We had already reached a mutual understanding with each other. This quiet kind of conversation is for after that. A sharing of ‘what happened for me’ when I heard his question. A catching up together so-to-speak. Exploring some of the assumptions I and he made in the past. Noticing some of the decisions I made to share or not share with Steve about things that were important to me, and how those decisions impacted this moment. Sweet, and sometimes bittersweet sharing of needs met and unmet. —Remember the choices we make to meet needs sometimes don’t work out the way we imagine. Nothing more than that.
All this was happening while I was planning a surprise birthday party for him. That is another fun story. Suffice it to say for now…he was surprised.
Not sure which is more surprising. That I could pull off a surprise 60th birthday party for Steve in two days (thanks to great friends), or that we didn’t fight, given how mad I was.
The moral of this story*?
Nonviolent Communication works! If you remember the intention of the work: To create a quality of connection where everyone’s needs get met. Remembering that was key, and influenced almost everything I chose to say that night.
So, so grateful to Marshall Rosenberg. We both said that a few times while talking though it.
*I have the same moral to every story. hehe. Using the skills that Nonviolent Communication teaches us really works!